June 5, 2012
EAST BOSTON — A large crowd of town officials, developers and residents gathered in East Boston on June 5 as the owners of Suffolk Downs unveiled plans for a $1 billion, 163-acre gambling resort casino at the site of the racetrack. The plans include 200,000 square feet of gambling space, a hotel, restaurants and retail shops.
The owners showed a slick 3-minute promotional DVD while horses trotted outside on the track. Principal owner Richard Fields said the location was ideal.
"Suffolk Downs is 5 minutes from our airport, is 10 minutes from downtown," he said. "When the project is completed, it will be a great partner to enhance the convention center and stimulate tourism for all of Boston, for Revere and for the entire region."
David Manfredi, the lead architect of the project, displayed the first architectural renderings of the proposed facility. "We envision an urban oasis — a mecca of entertainment of hospitality, gaming, restaurants, shops. It is that mix that will make it very special and will make it very urban,” Manfredi said. The plans call for a hotel, spa, restaurants, shops and a casino all to be built around the 77-year-old racetrack.
Suffolk Downs and its partner, Caesars Entertainment of Las Vegas, plan to bid for one of the three resort casino licenses under the state's new gambling law. Officials of the track said they would spend millions of dollars to tackle traffic concerns in the congested neighborhood, and would pursue host community agreements with Boston and neighboring Revere. They also said the resort would generate about 4,000 jobs — something on the minds of many residents in the area.
Only East Boston and Revere would get to vote on the proposal, not residents from all of Boston, thanks to a provision in the casino gambling bill which critics said at the time was rigged to help Suffolk Downs. Now that Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have pulled out of the game, Suffolk Downs appears to be the leading contender for the single casino license that state law will allow in Greater Boston. The lack of competition means the racetrack won't have to bid as much for a license — which could mean that taxpayers lose.